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Heritage Streetcars or Heritage Trams are a development of the Heritage Railway that are becoming popular across the world. As with modern streetcar systems, the vehicles are referred to as trams or tramcars in the United Kingdommarker, Australasia and certain other places (with tramway being the line or system), but as streetcars or trolleys in North America. The last two terms are often used interchangeably in the United Statesmarker, with trolley being preferred in the eastern U.S. and streetcar in Canada and the western U.S.

There are several different kinds of heritage streetcar lines. They can use original vintage vehicles or replicas of historic vehicles. They can be either newly-installed lines—created in modern times, 1970s or later—or be surviving older streetcar lines/tramways which have retained use of historic streetcars/trams for all of most of their scheduled service. Several new heritage streetcar lines have been opened since the 1970s, particularly in the United States, and some are stand-alone lines while others make use of a section of a modern light rail system. Some use all-new construction while others make use of an existing, usually disused, freight railway, by installing overhead wires and passenger stops. However, in all cases they are actual rail lines and not simply bus made to resemble a streetcar, although the latter are often referred to—inaccurately—as "trolleys" in the towns where they operate (see tourist trolley).

Proponents claim that using a simple, reliable form of transit from 50 or 100 years ago can bring history to life for 21st century users. In some cities, new heritage tramways have been installed in the city center, to attract tourists and shoppers. Additionally, many heritage streetcar lines turn out to be more economical than their modern counterparts, often with installations that can be built at a fraction of the cost of newer lines. However, there are trade-offs: such systems often lack handicapped access (required by law in many countries), for example. Most are modified to comply with the law. Also, they operate at slow speeds.

Heritage tramways worldwide

United States

Systems are operating successfully in over 20 U.S. cities, and are in planning or construction stages in others.

Heritage streetcar systems operating in Little Rock, Arkansasmarker; Memphis, Tennesseemarker; Dallas, Texasmarker; New Orleans, Louisianamarker; Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniamarker (SEPTA route 15) and Tampa, Floridamarker are among the larger examples. A heritage line operates in Charlotte, North Carolinamarker and will become a part of the city's new transit system. The San Francisco Municipal Railway, or Muni, runs exclusively historic trolleys on its heavily used F Market & Wharves line, serving Market Street and the tourist areas along the Embarcadero, including Fisherman's Wharfmarker. Boston'smarker Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority runs exclusively PCC streetcars on its Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line.

Dallasmarker has the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority. Denvermarker has the Platte Valley Trolley, a heritage line recalling the open-sided streetcars of the early 20th century. Old Pueblo Trolley is a volunteer-run heritage line in Tucson, Arizonamarker; its popularity inspired, in large part, a modern streetcar system for Tucson currently in the final planning stages, which would incorporate the heritage line. The VTA in San Jose, Californiamarker also maintains a heritage trolley fleet, for occasional use on the downtown portion of a new light rail system opened in 1988. Other cities with heritage streetcar lines include Galveston, Texasmarker, Kenosha, Wisconsinmarker and San Pedro, California. The National Park Service operates a system in Lowell, MAmarker.

Most heritage streetcar lines use overhead trolley wires to power the cars, as was the case with the vast majority of original streetcar lines. However, on the Galveston Island Trolley heritage line, which opened in 1988 and uses modern-day replicas of vintage trolleys, the cars are powered by an on-board diesel engine, as local authorities were concerned that overhead wires would be too susceptible to damage from hurricanes. Another heritage line lacking trolley wires is Savannah, Georgia'smarker River Street Streetcar line, which opened in February 2009. It is the first line to use a diesel/electric streetcar whose built-in electricity generator is powered by biodiesel. In El Reno, Oklahomamarker, the Heritage Express Trolley connects Heritage Park with downtown, using a single streetcar that has been equipped with a propane-powered on-board generator. The car formerly operated on SEPTA's Norristown High Speed Line, where third-rail current collection is used. The El Reno line is single-track and long.

In Portland, Oregonmarker, replica-vintage cars provide a heritage streetcar service, named Portland Vintage Trolley, along a section of that city's 1986-operated light rail line, while elsewhere in Portland the Willamette Shore Trolley operates a true vintage streetcar on a former freight railroad line, to Lake Oswego, Oregonmarker. This seasonal operation uses a diesel-powered generator on a trailer towed or pushed by the streetcar, as the line lacks trolley wires. Similarly, the Astoria Riverfront Trolley in Astoria, Oregonmarker is a seasonal heritage-trolley service along a section of former freight railroad and using a diesel-powered generator on a trailer to provide electricity to the streetcar.

Other seasonal heritage streetcar lines operate in Yakima, Washingtonmarker, Fort Collins, Coloradomarker and Fort Smith, Arkansasmarker.

Over 50 years later, the revival of extended streetcar operations in New Orleansmarker is credited by many to the worldwide fame gained by its streetcars built by the Perley A. Thomas Car Works in 1922-23. These cars were operating on the system's Desire route made famous by Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. Some Perley Thomas cars were maintained in continuous service on the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line until Hurricane Katrina caused major damage to the right-of-way in 2005. Fortunately, the historic streetcars suffered only minor damage and several have been transferred to serve on the recently-rebuilt Canal Street line while the St. Charles line is being repaired. New Orleans' St. Charles streetcar line is a National Historic Landmark. Pre-Katrina, New Orleans had plans to reconstruct the Desire line along its original route down St. Claude Avenue.

In San Franciscomarker, parts of the cable carmarker and Muni streetcar system (specifically the above-mentioned F Market & Wharves line) are heritage lines, although they are also functioning parts of the city's transit system. The cable cars are a National Historic Landmark - with the New Orleans streetcars, the only such landmarks that move.

Canada

Seasonally operated lines can be found in Vancouvermarker (the Downtown Historic Railway), in Nelson, B.C.marker, in Edmontonmarker, and in Whitehorse, Yukonmarker. Operating streetcar lines are also part of the atmosphere at two living history museums in Albertamarker, located near Calgarymarker and Edmontonmarker: the Heritage Park Historical Villagemarker and Fort Edmonton Parkmarker. Heritage streetcars operate at the Halton Radial Railway Museum in Rockwood, Ontario. The Toronto Transit Commission operates 3 heritage streetcars (2 PCC and 1 Peter Witt) on private rentals on their historic fleet on regular streetcar tracks.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdommarker the vast majority of tram lines were lifted before the heritage movement began to flourish. The tracks and trams were scrapped. Although trams are returning to British cities, they are modern transportation systems (also known as light rail), not heritage operations. There are, however, three notable heritage tram operations in the UK. The National Tramway Museummarker at Crichmarker, is located in an old limestone quarry and has an extensive collection of preserved trams. Strictly speaking, this would be considered a tramway museum with an operating tram line, rather than being a heritage tramway. By contrast the Blackpool tramway is the only surviving first-generation tram system in the UK and provides a service running along the Blackpool Pleasure Beachmarker using both historic and modern trams. There is also a modern "heritage" tramway in Birkenheadmarker, Merseyside.
Dudley tram No.
5 of 1920 operating at Black Country Museum


Places in Britain where preserved trams operate:

Europe (outside U.K.)

French Deûle Valley tourist tram
In Spainmarker, a new heritage tramway was opened in A Coruñamarker (La Coruña) in 1997. Tramvia Blau in Barcelonamarker has been in operation since 1904 but still uses trams built in 1904-15, and thus has become a heritage line. Similarly, the tramway connecting Sóllermarker with Puerto de Sóllermarker, on the island of Mallorcamarker, is operated exclusively with vintage trams; thus, although opened in 1913, nowadays it is a heritage line.

Heritage trams provide all of the service on some of Lisbon, Portugalmarker's tram lines, and in Portomarker a long-closed section of tramway in the historic Batalha section of the town center was reopened in 2007 for use by historic trams. In Sintra there is a seasonally operated heritage tramway.

In Swedenmarker, a 3-km section of Stockholmmarker's former route 7 was reopened in 1991 as a heritage tramway, using vintage cars, and in Malmömarker a technical museum operates an in-street heritage tram line in summer months.

Two separate heritage tramways operate in Istanbul, Turkeymarker, one on the European side of the Bosporusmarker and one on the Asian side. The former opened in 1991 between Tünelmarker (funicular station) and Taksimmarker metro station, and the latter in 2003 in the suburb of Kadıköymarker.

In France, the Deûle Valley tramway near Lillemarker which runs along a 3 km track from Marquette-lez-Lillemarker to Wambrechiesmarker features several tram vehicles dating back to the beginning of the 20th century.

In Praguemarker the Czech Republicmarker the Prague Public Transport Company operates Nostalgic Tram Line 91 at weekends using historical tram vehicles.

In Amsterdammarker in the Netherlandsmarker the Electrisch Museumtramlijn operates historic trams over a 7km length of former railway line.

Rest of the World

In Buenos Airesmarker, a heritage tram line was inaugurated In 1980 in the Caballito neighbourhoodmarker on existing vintage street tracks. Presently a proposal for a heritage tram in colonial San Telmomarker is under discussion. After briefly operating a short heritage line along Embaré Beach in the mid-1980s, Santos, Brazilmarker in 2000 opened a new heritage tramway in the historic Valongo district, using a car built in 1911. The line is being extended, and additional trams have been added. Heritage tramways have also been opened in Belém, Brazilmarker (2005), Iquique, Chilemarker (2004) and Lima, Perumarker (1997).

A new city-center heritage tramway was opened in Christchurch, New Zealandmarker in 1995. Heritage tramways also exist in Bendigomarker, Sydneymarker and Ballaratmarker, Australia.

The Hong Kong Tramways in Hong Kongmarker are considered part of the heritage of Hong Kong.

See also



References

  1. Young, Andrew D. (1997). Veteran & Vintage Transit (ISBN 0-9647279-2-7). St. Louis: Archway Publishing.
  2. El Reno Attractions (El Reno Convention & Visitors Bureau)
  3. El Reno Heritage Express Trolley (unofficial page)
  4. Russell, Michael (Dec. 2007). "The return to Batalha". Tramways & Urban Transit, p. 490. LRTA Publishing.
  5. La vallée de la Deûle en tramway from Linternaute (in French). Retrieved 19 February 2009.
  6. Nostalgic Tram Line No. 91
  7. Electrisch Museumtramlijn Amsterdam


  • Carlson et al. (1986), The Colorful Streetcars We Rode, Bulletin 125 of the Central Electric Railfans' Association, Chicago, Il. ISBN 0-915348-25-X
  • Taplin, Michael; and Russell, Michael (2002). Trams in Western Europe (ISBN 1-85414-265-8). Harrow Weald, Middlesex, UK: Capital Transport Publishing.



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